Ryvoan Bothy

Here is a poem found in Ryvoan Bothy during the 1939-45 war.

I shall leave tonight from Euston
Buy the seven-thirty train
And from Perth in early morning
I shall see the hills again.
From the top of Ben Macdhui
I shall watch the gathering storm,
And see the crisp snow lying
At the back of Cairngorm.
I shall feel the mist from Bhrotain
And pass by the Lairig Ghru
To look down on dark Loch Einich
From the heights of Sgoran Dubh.
From the broken burns of Bynack
I shall see the sunrise gleam
On the foreheads of Ben Rines,
And Strathspey awake from dream.
And again in the dusk of evening
I shall find once more alone
The dark waters of the Green Loch
And the pass beyond Ryvoan.
For tonight I leave from Euston
And leave the world behind
Who has the hills as lover
Will find them wondrous kind.

Murder of Constable King – Nethy Bridge 20 Dec 1898

(copied (or written?) by P.C. Matthew Anderson, Colyston, Ayrshire)

Away in the heart of the Highlands away
Where lovers of nature delight for to stay
Amid the great mountains whose summits so high
Appear to outrival the clouds of the sky.
Far from the city so glaring and loud
Far from it’s hurrying feverish crowd
Far amid scenes rendered solemn today
But close by the wide, rolling river of Spey.
It was there roamed McCallum ferocious and free
A bold law defying, wild poacher was he,
2 who roamed the dark forest and wild mossy heath
And scared with his gun all the keepers to death.
Alone on the mountains, alone on the hill
Alone through the valley he poached at his will.
And felt not a joy but a wild, savage pride
For the prey of his gun and the dog by his side.
McCallum was summoned at court to appear
And then for his liberty sore did he fear.
He viciously vowed that if Constable King
Would dare to arrest him, for him he would swing.
3 A warrant was granted McCallum to bring
The task of arrest fell on Constable King,
Of Nethy Bridge Station, whose home was his pride
And pure admiration of all of Speyside.
He was a constable true to his trust
Fearless in duty while faithful and just
His God he revered, bad men he defied
A true British hero he lived and he died.
In the midst of the night when the stillness was deep
And wearied out mothers had been asleep
The constable’s wife had a dream that impressed
And deeply did trouble her sensitive breast.
There in her dream, oh! How plainly she sees
McCallum low crouching behind the dark trees.
and now there’s her husband, her heart flies with pride
He’s marching McCallum along the Speyside.
Again she can see them and now they’re afloat
Crossing the Spey in a neat little boat.
McCallum is restless he makes for to rise
The fury of madness burns fierce in his eyes.
Her heart is now throbbing, McCallum is springing
Swift on her husband she hears the blows ringing
He rises, he staggers, he’s tossed in the stream
And then she awakes from her horrible dream.
Even that morning impressed with the sight
She told her fond husband the dream of the night.
And said with McCallum “Be careful, today
And if you arrest him, oh! don’t cross the Spey”
He promised and faithful his promise he’d keep
And though he said little, his thought they ran deep.
McCallum had threatened to shoot him before
And therefore he knew he might come back no more.
He gathered his household, the bible he took
And earnestly read from that soul soothing book.
Then full of affection he bade them goodbye
And went forth to duty, to do or to die.
Oh, scenes may be holy in church or in hall
But here was the holiest scene of them all.
Sacred to God is a household in prayer
Angels of Jesus are hovering there.
Cold was the morning and dull was the day
As on through the valley King wended his way.
Ah! Well he may list to the waters that roar
4 For alas, he will hear their wild music no more.
Then Mr McNiven the gallant and kind
Joined in the duty McCallum to find.
They pressed to the poacher’s poor dwelling that stood
Lonely and wild by the edge of the wood.
But early that morn with the rise of the sun
McCallum had left with his dog and his gun
Then each of the constables took his own way
And searched the dark forest that dull winter’s day.
And soon did McNiven, McCallum espy
He pointed his gun when McNiven drew nigh.
And swore he would shoot him down dead through the heart
Before with his freedom that day he would part.
Then swift through the forest he vanished from sight
Like an owl when disturbed in the midst of the night.
While on through the forest again and again
The constables searched but they all searched in vain.
Weary with searching they turn then for home
And back by McCallum’s home dwelling they come
No sign of life there nor one spark of light
All is so dark as the fast falling night.
They entered the dwelling, they grope in the gloom
King to the kitchen, McNiven the room
While there in the kitchen, unseen in the dark
McCallum has taken his murderous mark.
The trigger is pulled and the bullet is sped
The stillness is broken,, the constable’s dead
The murderer is flying, he hardly knows where
Tortured with terror and torn with despair.
Alas for the home now of Constable King
Dread are the tidings McNiven must bring
Filled with forebodings his fond wife did yearn
And wished all that day for her husband’s return.
Cheered are the soldiers on the wild fields of war
To fight for their country inlands scattered far
But King needed nothing to cheer him to fight
He belonged to the hero brigade of the night.
Ye kind sympathisers who gave of your store
To keep the wild wolf from the old widow’s door
A something more precious a sweet saviour’s love
Is waiting for you in that great home above.